How To Become Friends With Your Professor

College can be a huge pain, and one of the reasons why is probably your strict professors. Straight out of high school, you were expecting fun and freedom. Yet here they are, making you shell out a five-page essay due every meeting. How can you make it easier without getting stressed over a piece of paper? One way you can take off much of the load is to befriend your professor. Yes, you must know how to become friends with your professor. What better way to get an easy pass on a class is there than your professor giving it to you because he likes you? Below are some helpful steps on how to become friends with your professor.

Get to know him

This is a non-negotiable first step. You can’t befriend someone without getting to know them first; befriending your professor is preceded by getting to know your professor. You need to know what buttons to push, what ticks them off, and what excites them. The same goes with professors: personalities and beliefs vary among them. The easiest way to know your professor is to try to talk to him, preferably outside of class. Results may vary: if he’s friendly and approachable, it’ll be easy. If he’s snobbish, it might take some time. In this case, you have to get his attention by performing well in class. Do this by reciting frequently and scoring high in his tests.

When you get the chance, try to find out the following from him:

  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • Favorites
  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • His degree
  • Research works
  • Awards and achievements

Make your first encounter count, because you’ll never know when you can talk to him again. Professors are usually busy and don’t want to waste their time. If you mess up on the first try, keep trying. No matter what, it will get easier because they’ll slowly open up to you more and more each time.

What you will gain from this is information about him which you can use like an arsenal at your disposal. The other steps that follow are general tips on what you can do with that information. The overall theme should be clear: do things that he likes, avoid things he doesn’t like.

Also, you don’t have to talk to your professor to discover things about him. Sometimes, a little research into his background can do the trick. Searching about your professor in the internet can yield some results. Try looking through social networking platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn. In case that doesn’t work, there are also other sources like the school directory or yearbooks. Doing this, however, might get you to miss out on the opportunity of getting him to open up, since personal interaction is no longer there.

In addition, what you’ll also gain is his openness to you. He’ll trust you and be comfortable around you. This is more important than his information – in fact, this is the most important thing you have to do because it’s the very basis of succeeding on how to become friends with your professor. You will need to gain this even more than information about him.

The theme of the steps to follow is trying to get your professor to like you. Successfully befriending someone is the by-product of someone liking you. 

Professors take pride in their pride in their work.

Praise his work 

Your knowledge of his background will be one of the keys to befriending your professor. For one, professors love it if you bring up and praise their works, because they take pride in their work. If you mention your professor’s works to him, it’s like telling him that you take an interest in knowing his accomplishments. For good measure, mention a few details in their work to express your interest in their research. This requires thorough familiarization, lest you forget. 

You can also commend his education: the degrees he earned and achievements he graduated with. It’s also a nod to the hard work he put in. Again, try to read up on his theses and dissertations and talk about your fascination with them. 

Try to be careful, though. Doing this too much can make your motives seem dubious to him. There might be some information on his background that he didn’t willingly divulge, or uncomfortable discussing.

Share your common interests and hobbies

You can resort to this once you got your professor to open up to you.

Like in praising his work, you will be drawing from what he opened up to you – only this time, you’ll be able to work with a much wider range from just his achievements.

Look into interests and hobbies that both of you have. Prerequisite to becoming friends with your professor is locating that solid common ground that you two share. It can be any interest or hobby; it doesn’t have to be college-related. These examples might help:

  • Sports
  • TV shows
  • Movies
  • Favorites
  • Beliefs
  • Values

The last two, beliefs and values, are ones where you might want to tread lightly. They can be quite sensitive topics, and discussing them with your professor might render both of you uncomfortable.

Also, don’t lie that you share the same certain interests with your professor when you really don’t. People who genuinely have interests and hobbies want to talk about them a lot. It’s surprising how easy it is for them to detect whether a person also shares the same sentiments as themselves. 

Again, tread lightly. Don’t do this too frequently, or you’ll arouse suspicion about your motives.

Give him gifts

This is more of a materialistic approach to get your professor to like you. In most cases, you’ll have to shell out some money.

The gifts that you can give to your professor depend on what he wants. What would almost always work is gifting him his favourite food or drink. It’s rare for people to pass up on that kind of favorite. Buying him books of a genre of his liking is also an excellent choice. He’ll see it as a token of appreciation for his work.

You don’t have to buy expensive gifts for him; in fact, it’s inadvisable. Gifting him the latest Samsung Galaxy Note, for example, might make him feel quite guilty because he’ll feel like you spent a lot of your money on that. Worst case scenario: he’ll think of it as a bribe to get you a better grade.

Test the waters to see if this a good way to get your professor to like you.

So far, these steps give a general direction on how to go about befriending your professor. Openness is the key element throughout all of these steps, but its importance cannot be stressed enough in the last step.

Before proceeding there, first think about these questions: what does it mean to “make friends” with your professor? Is it to have a genuinely good relationship with the professor that makes you both happy? Or, are you only trying to get your professor to like you for your own gain? What’s really driving you to find out how to become friends with your professor?

You don’t have to answer these questions, yet. Keep them in mind for now as you read the final step.

Be sincere and appreciate him

Imagine yourself in your professor’s shoes: you worked countless gruelling hours on your Master’s Degree, sacrificed much of your time with family and friends to research and to write your dissertation to earn that Doctoral Degree, and committed yourself to a life where you juggle work in research and work in teaching hundreds of students at a time about your field of work that was your life’s passion - only for students to try to suck up to you just to pass your class, the love child of all of that struggle.

Your passion is not appreciated – you are not appreciated.

Wouldn’t you feel frustrated? It’s lonely, doesn’t it?

Professors are human beings like everyone else. They have dreams, passions, and ideals. But most of all, they want to feel affirmed. Professors need friends. They need someone who will affirm them for what they struggled for. 

The research world is a very competitive place; researchers rumble over each other to publish the most work for fame and prestige. Sometimes, it gets tough. Researchers tend to isolate themselves to focus on their own work. 

One of the few places where professors can seek affirmation is in the university. They try to get that from you by teaching what they’re so passionate and skilled about. They want you to learn what they learned in the past years of their higher education.

If you’re determined and sincere in befriending your professor, in the end it’s all about genuine respect for him. The previous steps do work in getting your professor to like, but without real sincerity and appreciation, you can’t really say you befriended your professor. Make friends with your professor like you would with anyone else. It’ll be more meaningful than making them like you just so you can get an easy pass on their class.

Real friendship

No matter what ways you think of how to become friends with your professor, never forget the sincerity, affirmation, and appreciation that come in every friendship. College might seem like the most stressful four years of your life, and your professors might be part of the reason why. 

Trying to suck up to them may get you to have an easy pass on their classes. It’s tempting because you’re struggling. But they’re struggling on their own, too. Regardless of what you do, never forget the humanity of your professor. Make friends with your professor, and he’ll end up being one of the biggest reasons why college is actually incredible. 

Maybe, this is also something you’ll get from your college education: it’s not just you learning from the professor – it’s about you and your professor learning from and with each other. It all starts with real friendship.

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